Archive for June 4th, 2011

June 4, 2011

Use your THINKING brain (think inside the box)…..

by Rod Smith

Helpful METAPHOR….

(I am deeply influenced by Rabbi Friedman, Peter Steinke, and Murray Bowen – who have each written on these matters and written most profoundly so – Peter’s book “How your church family works” was my primary influence in revolutionizing how I see and understand my own brain. I give Peter full credit for any resemblance you may see to his work. While it is neither copied nor “lifted”, one cannot read something and love something so much without it reverberating in one’s work.)

Getting to BOX 3 ASAP will save you a lot of hardship

Think of your (human) brain as three living boxes, placed one inside the other, residing inside your skull. Mammals get the “inside” two boxes – reptiles, poor things, get only one.

The smallest box, the stem, doesn’t think. It works. Protects. It’s humorless. It’s not the “feeler” or “thinker.” It’s got no room for such nonsense. Every time you want to EXPLODE, when you get anxious, feel like hiding, or hitting, your stem is trying to dominate! The greater your anxiety, the more your inner-reptile will want to break out.

The stem, your primal, instinctual, reptilian center, serves to protect you and keep your vital organs running. It will throw you under a table if there’s an explosion and put you into attack mode if you (or someone you love) is threatened. Turtles, snakes, polar bears, and dogs have stems – doing as much for them as yours does for you. Your stem is not creative; it doesn’t have the brains to be.

You might have to invite a friend, on occasion, to step out of his or her stem. But be careful, stem-bound men and women are humorless! And, they bite.

If you want to punch someone who disagrees with you, or run away from all “stupid” people – you are probably stem-bound. You’ve allowed your stem (your Reacting) to dominate. I’d suggest you shift gears (shift boxes) before hurt someone or lose your job. When you find you are overly reactive you have to tell your stem “to get back in your box! Do your job. Stop trying to think.”

Box 2 is the Limbic Box and it is much larger than the stem and feels it is much more important. It is not. It is different. This is the “feelings” or “emotion center.” Give yourself enough time in this box and you will hear country music blaring from all sides and you’ll see “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books everywhere.

Linger in the limbic and you will feel overwhelmed. It is an essential place to visit but you don’t want to live here. This is a place reserved for mammals and humans. No matter how much you love your pet alligator, it simply doesn’t have fun. It doesn’t have the brains for fun. Your dog does. That is why fun with your dog is really a mutual (but not equal) experience. Throwing a ball in the yard might be fun for you but it is the pinnacle of joy – every time – for your dog.

Ever felt really sorry for yourself? Like absolutely no one cares, especially after ALL you’ve done? Do you find yourself singing “I’m-so-lonesome” songs and “I-feel-so left out” songs? You have been spending far too much time in your feeling or I-Need-Empathy Box. This is a warm and welcoming place but it is not built for thinking. Move on to the Think Tank (Box 3) where you can get some useful work done.

Box 3 is your Neo-Cortex and it is larger than the stem and the limbic. This is the creative, distinctly human dimension of your brain. It governs (or tries to govern) the stem and the limbic. It is your “Think Tank.” It’s the Art Studio, the Creative Center. Here you’ll find Einstein posters, wild lists, cartoons, and drawings reminding you of all the possibilities you have seen for your life plastering the walls. It is from here you engage in creative discussions (“I think therefore I am”) about marvelous possibilities.

This is communication central, the clearinghouse of ideas large and small, this is the funny farm, the place you get your funniest thoughts and ideas. This is where humor, spirituality, appreciation of the finer things in life, and prayer, begin and thrive.

No matter how much you love your pet mammal he just cannot share your spiritual space with you. He doesn’t have the brains for it. The developed neo-cortex is reserved for humans only. Visit this, your “seize the day” room as much as possible and try to have all your “thoughts” about your reactions, feelings, and actions walk around this room for examination before you make a move.

Time spent in Box 3 is (usually) good for you. It’s your humor center, your envisioning center – it’s a platform of endless possibilities and the place from which you greatness will really emerge.

All three “brain boxes” can be “visited” in an instant: I enter a shop and search for an item. I cannot find what I need or anyone to help me and I am in a hurry. My Stem (the fuse box) wants me “blow a fuse” and walk out never to return! Limbic, which feels abandoned, kicks in. I tell myself, “After all my loyalty. After shopping here for 20 years, you’d think someone would recognize me, and care.” Then Cortex pipes up and says: “Ah! You are bright, resourceful and every one is busy. You can find anything you need on your own. Seize this great opportunity!”

Rod E. Smith
(317) 694 8669

June 4, 2011

Jonah – or – how to eat your young

by Rod Smith

It is not only some exotic insects and creatures that eat their young. I’ve seen parents do it quite regularly. It happened to my friend when we were boys. His mother ate him. She tried to eat me too but I got away. I ran as fast as I could and after I did that once she left me alone. After I ran away that first time I could visit without her making a meal out of me. She knew I knew what she was up to and furthermore, I knew she knew I knew. Before all this “knewing” gets ridiculous I know that because of what we both knew I knew, she didn’t like me much which was okay with me. If you don’t like someone very much you are unlikely to eat him. Knowing made me safe – which I think it usually does.

Mrs. RunAwayBunny (I call her that just for fun) didn’t eat her son all in one bite, it was just slow, steady mouthfuls. Every time he expressed a view that wasn’t also her view, he got tongue lashed. She chewed him out when he showed any desire for independence or if he laughed at anything she didn’t find funny. Then one day it finally happened, she swallowed him altogether. His pinkie toe of his left foot was my very last glimpse of the real him. All this adoration and love wasn’t very pretty.

Of course she “loved him to death” and because he was “so adorable” she could just “eat him up.” So she did. She did spit him out after a few days much like I imagined the whale regurgitated Jonah. Unlike Jonah, my friend stopped thinking, seeing, feeling, and speaking for himself. Something happened when he got swallowed up, I guessed it was getting so near to the womb he’d already left, that stopped him up or it was something to do with getting too much mother juice. She loved him into what she wanted, into seeing things through her eyes, and when he did, she thought these triumphs were remarkable signs of just how much he loved her. She measured his love by how much of him she could occupy even though it was “Mrs. RunAwayBunny” (I’m liking her name more and more and you’ll know why if you’ve read the story) who wanted to occupy him. If this confuses you now you must know how much it confused me then.

We still rode our bikes together and we sometimes still walked through the forest at the bottom of the yard but after she ate him and coughed him up like a cat and a hairball it was like riding my bike with her and walking through the forest with someone who was always careful and afraid. After she loved him to death he wouldn’t cross Blackburn Road when there was no traffic without being terrified.

Yes. One day, as I told you, and because she loved him so completely and she was always willing to sacrifice her needs for him, she ate the boy out of him altogether. I know. I was there. I watched it happen.